The Dome (Riga) Cathedral, located in the heart of the Old Town of Riga near the embankment of the Daugava river, is rightly considered to be the most recognizable landmark of the city. The cathedral was one of the first buildings of Riga after its foundation in 13 century.
As is known, the Bremen bishop Albert von Buxhoeveden founded Riga in 1201. During the first years of its existence there were erected several houses (mainly wooden), as well as the warehouses and granaries in the neighbourhood of the Albert Square. In 1209 the tall building of the Church of St. Peter was begun and 2 years later, in 1211, the bishop Albert laid down the foundation of the huge Dome Cathedral of Riga.
At the time of its foundation the scale of the Dome Cathedral was just huge, but even today it is one of the largest Christian churches in the Baltic countries. As a whole, its construction was finished a century later, and so the bishop Albert was buried in the unfinished church. Because of the lack of money it was decided to build only one tower but this permitted to make it very massive and thus impart recognizable features to the Dome Cathedral of Riga.
For 800 years of its existence the Dome Cathedral was repeatedly rebuilt and acquired its today appearance only by 18 century. Also, you should take it into account that in the course of all these centuries the cathedral was surrounded by closely located residential buildings and the Dome Square was but a small area before the altar of the cathedral. And in 1936 the area before the cathedral was significantly enlarged while all surrounding buildings were pulled down.
The cathedral has quite modest interior decorations, as in 1524 the followers of the Reformation removed the gorgeous decorations, which were typical for medieval Catholic churches, and later fires finished their work.
The Dome Cathedral houses the famous organ. Though you can listen to it during the religious services it would be better for you to come to a concert of classical music, which are regularly held at the Dome Cathedral. The organ installed on the choir of the Dome Cathedral was made in 1883 by the German company «E.F.Walcker&Co». Until that time the other organ was used in the cathedral for about three hundred years.
At the moment of installation of this German organ in 1883 it was the biggest in the world. The big pipes of the organ reach the length of 25 meters. In 1955 the world`s biggest organ was installed in the Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove (USA) to the south of Los Angeles.
The Dome Cathedral is almost in the heart of the Old Town and it takes only several minutes to get from it to the House of the Blackheads (following the Flower Street) and St. Peter`s Church in the south, or the Riga Castle, Riga City Walls and the Three Brothers in the north of the city.